Feed for the Ocean: can high-performance proteins reduce aquaculture’s environmental impact?

Ittinsect products

This article is part of a blog series introducing the startup teams of the EIT Food Accelerator Network Helsinki 2024 programme.

Did you know that our oceans are getting emptier and emptier each year?

In a world where environmental impact is a growing concern, Ittinsect is taking the lead in transforming aquaculture by using sustainable, high-performance fish feed solutions. Aquaculture is the source of animal proteins with the lowest GHG emissions, but aquaculture feeds are still creating an impact on the natural ecosystems. Ittinsect, the Italian biotech established in 2021, managed to reduce human impact on marine ecosystems through innovative biotechnological processes and alternative protein sources.

Revolutionizing Fish Feed with Biotechnology

Ittinsect addresses a critical issue in the aquaculture industry: feeding based on fishmeal, which depletes marine resources and disrupts ecological balance and ocean biodiversity. What is Ittinsect’s solution? High-performance fish feeds and feed ingredients are produced through cutting-edge bioprocesses. The biotech’s alternative proteins are extracted from insects and upcycled agricultural by-products. The team’s patent-pending technological innovation already showed an  8x increase in highly digestible proteins, and the product is still being optimized. Ittinsect considerably improves digestibility whilst eliminating anti-nutritional factors such as fibres and chitin. In line with the principles of circular economy, the other anti-nutritional factors are used as an energy source to fuel the biotech process and some are sold individually to other industries.


Ittinsect products


There is a net advantage for fish farmers to use feeds containing Ittinsect’s ingredients: clients noticed a reduction in fish mortality thanks to improved digestibility and less inflammation. They were able to and minimize uncertainties in the growth cycle, ultimately increasing the yield of their fish farm. This approach not only contributes to saving marine natural resources but also ensures more sustainable and effective aquaculture practices and higher marginalities for fish farmers.

Ittinsect’s journey

Ittinsect was born with a clear mission: creating sustainable and high-performance fish feeds and reducing the environmental impact of aquaculture. Founder Alessandro Romano identified the urgent need for sustainable alternatives in the fish farming industry. Since its inception, Ittinsect has teamed up with top research institutions like CREA, the University of Bari, and the University of Naples to ensure their solutions are both scientifically sound and commercially viable. Since demonstrating the technical feasibility of their minimum valuable product, Ittinsect raised over 1.5M€ in funding, including equity investments from Katapult Ocean, CDP Venture Capital, Indico Capital Partners, and the LVenture Group, as well as regional and national grants from Invitalia and Lazioinnova. This strong and diverse support boosts Ittinsect’s confidence and ambition for the future.

Embracing the EIT FAN Programme

Participating in the EIT FAN programme is a strategic move for Ittinsect, given the rapid growth of the aquaculture sector and the lagging technologicalIttinsect pellet advancements in the feed industry. EIT FAN provides the best possible European support for business and technological development in this crucial sector, offering a unique platform to connect with industry leaders, potential partners, and investors who share ittinsect’s vision for sustainable aquaculture.

Ittinsect’s expectations are high; the company aims to secure a corporate collaboration that benefits not only their operations but also the entire industry by reducing environmental impact and enhancing profit margins. Although Ittinsect was not selected in its previous two applications, the team understands that the value of this program lies in its potential to forge partnerships with leading global corporates, a process that requires experience and precise execution. This time, Ittinsect’s development stage aligns perfectly with the expectations of their corporate partners:

”So far, the experience has been immensely positive, intense but transformative, elevating the company’s industry knowledge and sharpening self-awareness about the capabilities of both our business team and our technical team.”

For those considering applying to EIT FAN, Ittinsect believes it is crucial to have early traction with their products and have some initial experience in engaging with corporate partners before applying.

Looking Ahead

Ittinsect is poised for exponential growth, driven by its commitment to sustainability and innovation. The company is confident it can revolutionize the aquaculture industry with the ongoing support of programs like EIT FAN and the collaboration of visionary partners. Ittinsect invites investors, corporate partners, and stakeholders to join in its mission to create a sustainable future for aquaculture.


Ittinsect team


Written by Ittinsect’s Marketing Specialist Carolina Campi and CEO Alessandro Romano.


To learn more about Ittinsect, please visit their website. Follow Ittinsect on LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest updates. Learn more about the EIT FAN here.